Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Treaty, the Maori Party, the National Party, and Asset Sales

The development in the relationship between the Maori Party and National in relation to the part-sale of state assets is intriguing. I can’t really blame the Maori Party for their strong stand. It is one thing to part-sell state assets, but to remove the clause protecting the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi is questionable.
Over the years, I have moved in my view of the Treaty. There was once a time when I had little time for Maori desire for favouritism toward Maori. I thought, “hey, I am a sixth generation NZer, why should they get favoured?” I felt this in places like Auckland Teachers College where there were people studying on Maori grants, which I felt was unfair. The truth was, I was a lazy so-and-so and had no right to say anything!
Over time, I have shifted my position. As I have studied history more, I have wondered more and more what it would be like to have “possession” of a piece of land, and for someone to come in and effectively flog it off you, with intrigue and use of force. This happens again and again in history, and it seems a violation of what humanity is and should be, made in the image of God as we are. This is especially so when the colonisers did it in many cases, in the name of their religion, their God. I believe passionately in that faith and God, and the more I study the Scriptures and learn of the heart of the Jesus we follow, the less I can see any justification for what happened. It was a disgrace. I repent on behalf of all my whanau.

I have also shifted in my view of the Treaty. I once saw the Treaty more as a limiting thing, a negative, an annoyance holding us back. Things like clauses in the State Owned Enterprises Acts stating that the crown would not act in a manner inconsistent with the Treaty principles, seemed a little much. Hearing of developments stalled over iwi claims seemed unjust. One friend I know is sitting on a glorious piece of beach property and can’t develop it for these reasons—they pay a mortgage on a piece of land paralysed by iwi interests. Such things really used to annoy me.
However, I have now shifted on this. Now I think it is a good thing. I think the Waitangi Tribunal is a great idea, one way of doing something to right the wrongs of the past. Not that they can ever really be made right, we Pakeha rely on the grace of the Maori for what was done in the past.

Not only is the Treaty etc one way of giving something back for the “robbery” of the past, but there are several other things I like about such clauses and keeping the Treaty as a foundational document in our nation. First, Maori interests coincide in many cases with those of the gospel. The gospel calls for care for the poor and marginalised and for those of privilege, power, and prosperity doing their best to raise the lot of the poor and oppressed. While I think that we need a broader commitment to the poor of all races than assistance just to Maori (something most Maori I am sure agree with anyway), the Treaty gives us a base to ensure that the voice of the poor is always heard. Further, the Treaty does not just protect Maori, it protects Pakeha and ensures a peaceful NZ! Imagine a NZ where Maori decided to resort to terrorism to achieve their goals! Imagine and NZ Teleban or Al Qaeda! The Treaty I believe helps to ensure that Maori work within the system and do not resort to violence to seek to achieve their goals. I thank God for that.  

The Treaty was in large part inspired by Christians who did not want to see the destruction of Maori as in the case of other indigenous peoples. While it wasn’t perfect, I think it has limited the carnage that might have ensued, and continues to serve us well. We have to be patient as land-claims are worked through. Sure, the time will come in our future where we move on as one and such claims come to an end. But we are far from there, and we just have to allow the process to play out to see justice done, as best we can.
I really can’t see why National would not uphold the clause for these State Owned Assets. I cannot understand why they did not get this sorted as part of the process of establishing the processes for sales earlier. Allowing this to happen in the week leading up to Waitangi Day is dumb politics. It might get messy up there in Waitangi—have a blast John Key!

While these assets are no longer going to be owned completely by the State, the State as major share-holder and controller of the asset, should want to be in partnership with people who will respect our heritage, tradition and values. So, I am with the Maori Party on this one. Go hard. Don’t back down. Kia Kaha! John Key et al, you should listen well, and ensure that a compromise is reached that ensures that the principles of the Treaty are upheld. It is part of your commitment to partnership with Maori that you include a clause that satisfies Maori and protects us all.
The truth is, that National are making a meal of the assets thing, whether it is the Crafer Farms, the James Cameron thing that broke today, and this part-sales. After Rogernomics, there is a fair degree of wariness around about selling anything. This won’t help. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Labour back on the rise. What do you think?

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